In a major new report launched today, international humanitarian charity Christian Aid has warned the impacts of Covid, climate and conflict demand a rethink and new approach to international development that moves beyond the polarity of ‘us’ and ‘them’.
Christian Aid is calling for a “new path that moves on from growth-centred definitions of development and aid dependency to a vision of human flourishing that is just and sustainable and recognises people’s interdependence”.
The Christian Aid report, endorsed by UN Special Envoy for Global Education and former Prime Minister of the UK Gordon Brown amongst others, is the culmination of a two-year project examining poverty, its causes and effects, and what it will take to end it.
Pointing to analysis that shows had growth been shared equally since 1950 then income poverty would have been eliminated, the charity argues systematic inequality has halted progress and allowed poverty to become increasingly concentrated amongst people who face exclusion and discrimination.
In a challenge to the government, civil society organisations, and businesses, Christian Aid believes the crisis in Ukraine and severe hunger in the Horn of Africa shows it is time to accept that there are “too many recommendations, too many action plans, and too many promises unfulfilled”.
Christian Aid aims for the report to kick start a conversation within the international development sector, and with its supporters and sponsoring churches, about the future direction of efforts to end extreme poverty.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Christian Aid’s interim Chief Executive, Patrick Watt said:
In recent decades there has been remarkable progress to help those in need. But inequality, entrenched by the economic fallout of Covid-19, has slowed that progress, and now the climate crisis and conflict threaten to throw it into reverse.
Poverty is increasingly concentrated amongst people who face exclusion and discrimination. Eradicating poverty now requires fresh approaches that tackle inequality, strengthen people’s voice and decision making and treat poverty as multi-dimensional.
Commenting on the report, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and former Prime Minister of the UK, Gordon Brown said:
As a result of the pandemic, we have a health crisis, an economic crisis, and an education crisis, but we also have a poverty crisis, a social emergency which, if not addressed, will cost countless lost lives.
We must challenge leaders to face the scandal of global poverty afresh, as set out in Christian Aid’s poverty report.
It is this generation’s moral obligation to overcome extreme poverty and address inequalities, and we need to find new ways to strengthen those whose voices are often not heard. Christian Aid’s poverty report is a hopeful call for justice founded on the realisation that we are responsible for one another to live flourishing lives.
Further endorsements for the report came from Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who said:
Christian Aid’s report shows the gains that have been made in tackling extreme poverty in recent decades, but also the limits of progress to date. The pandemic has clearly exposed the deep, persistent inequalities that continue to blight our world, with women and girls in lower-income countries being hit especially hard. No one can be left out of the fight against poverty. We must listen to and be led by the most marginalised, understanding their experiences and standing with them in claiming their rights.